Feed Ramp Polishing


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marb4
June 11, 2012, 05:27 PM
How many of you polish the feed ramp of your autoloader regardless of whether or not you're having feeding problems? I have a Glock 19 (gen3) that I bought used and has been flawless through about a thousand rounds. The feed ramp just looks a little rough though. Not bad but could definitely be better with some q tips and polishing compound. I know, "if it ain't broke don't fix it". I'm just curious about how many make a feed ramp polish a routine "mod" to their pistols (or rifles for that matter).

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Cocked & Locked
June 11, 2012, 05:53 PM
not me :scrutiny:

coolluke01
June 11, 2012, 06:00 PM
I friend did mine for me on my G34. It's worked just fine before and works just fine now. It did take a few of the tooling marks out. It's really nice and shiny but after a few rounds its just dirty again.

rcmodel
June 11, 2012, 06:05 PM
You won't accomplish anything with a Q-Tip except making the dull roughness shiny roughness.

Actually polishing the feed ramp is done using a fine rubberized abrasive Cratex tip in a Dremel, or by hand with a dowel rod and very fine grades of black emery paper.

That actually removes the tool marks that make it rough.

rc

mgmorden
June 11, 2012, 06:19 PM
You can never put metal back on (and polishing IS removing metal). If you're not having any issues with it, then don't "polish" anything. There are a lot of good guns that have been ruined by kitchen table gunsmiths "polishing" and "moding" this and that.

Captain Brown Beard
June 11, 2012, 06:37 PM
I learned this lesson the hard way a while back on a Springfield 1911 Loaded model. Worked just fine, but I read an article that convinced me my feed ramp needed polished. Long story short, it looks fantastic, but is now a dedicated range gun. Fails to go into battery often. Lesson learned, if your gun operates as intended, don't mess with it.

Skylerbone
June 11, 2012, 06:49 PM
If it's done right it will never be worse for reliability but as mentioned many have goofed it up including gunsmiths of the hired persuasion. I polish all of mine but didn't always though reputable brands are generally adequate for lifelong reliability. I reserve the Q-Tips for cleaning out reloading dies and extractor tunnels, and the occasional ear wax removal.

Captain, I'd bet your Springer could be fixed unless you really went to town on it.

gym
June 11, 2012, 09:00 PM
Good advise , if the gun works leave it alone. too many things can go wrong. I had one that I just took a tiny bit off with some "mass" polish, no wheel just a cloth and my finger. It feeds fine now, tool marks are still visible but I don't care, it fired everything I put in it.

tryshoot
June 11, 2012, 09:34 PM
After cleaning and func test I always polish mine. Dremal tool walks to the gun and I meet it there.

The Lone Haranguer
June 11, 2012, 09:51 PM
I have a Glock 19 (gen3) that I bought used and has been flawless through about a thousand rounds. ... The feed ramp just looks a little rough though.
If it ain't broke, keep "fixing" it until it is. :p

The finish on a feed ramp, within reason, is not as important as the angles, dimensions and curvature. And it is much more important on, for example, a 1911, than the relatively straight-line feeding Glock. I would imagine many a 1911 frame (in which the feed ramp is located) has been ruined by improper "polishing."

Texan Scott
June 11, 2012, 10:00 PM
I reserve the Q-Tips for cleaning out reloading dies and extractor tunnels, and the occasional ear wax removal.

Why? Don't you have car keys??

Seriously... if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Captain Brown Beard
June 11, 2012, 10:05 PM
Captain, I'd bet your Springer could be fixed unless you really went to town on it.

I'm sure it could. I hit it with 2000g emery and finished with a light pass of dremel and flitz. Didn't touch any edges, just the face of the ramp. Shortly after I learned that gunsmiths invented the dremel to drum up more business for themselves.

Either way it doesn't concern me too much, it's no longer a ccw piece, and I don't much care if it occasionally locks up at the range, the paper has not once attempted to return fire at me. Maybe a project down the road.

foghornl
June 11, 2012, 10:13 PM
Closest I ever got to polishing a feed ramp was a couple of light rubs with a patch and and a smear of "Flitz"

Captain Brown Beard
June 11, 2012, 10:59 PM
Here's some photographic evidence of Danny Dremel at work. Not one of my proudest moments. It looks like I applied uneven pressure with the dowel wrapped in 2000 grit. I could possibly fix it by altering the angle slightly, but I'll leave that to somebody experienced, else I may make it worse.

Posted a pic of it dirty, as a clean pic doesn't show much. Didn't touch the barrel throat either.


http://i1154.photobucket.com/albums/p528/Drocca1/1911ramp.jpg

beatledog7
June 11, 2012, 11:31 PM
A little touchup of the ramp on my G22 improved the feed reliability of 180gr JHPs. By a little I mean cleaning with Gunzilla then touching with Flitz and a Q-Tip, just enough to go from dull to satin. Only needed it once; now just gets cleaned.

Skylerbone
June 12, 2012, 12:08 AM
A 1911 has about a 4 1/2 degree window to function well in, as with any firearm knowing what you're doing makes all the difference. The Gunsmithing subforum includes several excellent stickies on the subject for those interested. I would never claim a square wheel won't roll but I can verify round ones do: that is the difference between it's functioned fine and it functions to the greatest degree possible.

I don't suggest everyone jump in and go for it, merely understand the argument. Far too many people believe rough, loose, rattling, dirty, dry or dripping in oil are things that make firearms run well. They don't.

One of mine polished by yours truly, angle measured at 30 degrees.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=163140&d=1335047857

usp9
June 12, 2012, 09:04 AM
I've always wondered what exactly is gained. It seems the potential gain is so slight, so inconsequential as to be unworthy of the risk of permanent damage. In comparison to the force being applied to the round as it is cycled into the chamber, the difference in friction from low to high polish just doesn't seem to be a possible game changer. It just seems that if a particular pistol's reliability is on the cusp of feed or failure, solely due to a polished ramp, then there's another larger problem afoot.

Some of my most reliable guns are far from a high polish, yet they function just fine.

beatledog7
June 12, 2012, 09:51 AM
Some of what we get from touching up a feed ramp could be psychological.

I can't say for sure whether the work I did on my Glock made any difference--maybe I just got better at reloading the rounds, and the higher level of consistency is what made the difference.

Either way, amount of metal I removed from the ramp is virtually immeasurable, and I have more confidence in the gun's ability to feed the rounds.

ku4hx
June 12, 2012, 11:09 AM
Never.

Godsgunman
June 12, 2012, 11:23 AM
I've thought about it but never have. My autos are very reliable and havent had any feed issues so far. Again if it aint broke dont fix it. I just like to keep it wiped down and clean and shiny, just use my hoppes and rag for that.

Skylerbone
June 12, 2012, 11:36 AM
It just seems that if a particular pistol's reliability is on the cusp of feed or failure, solely due to a polished ramp, then there's another larger problem afoot.

The difference in a $50,000 Lexus that runs well and one that won't run at all can be a $3.00 sparkplug. No, absolutely smooth and reasonably smooth aren't that far apart but every little bit will help. Of course there's more to it than rubbing sandpaper but that's true of most things. Take that same sparkplug and mis-gap it and the car will run, but not nearly as well. The key is knowing what you've got before changing anything.

usp9
June 12, 2012, 01:42 PM
The difference in a $50,000 Lexus that runs well and one that won't run at all can be a $3.00 sparkplug.

I understand your analogy, but change it to; your Lexus having a wash and wax, then expecting it to be more dependable or getting better milage. This is more how I see the benefit, or lack thereof), of feed ramp polishing.

Skylerbone
June 12, 2012, 02:28 PM
No, these are internal parts that receive contact. The improved appearance is a result of the process but is not the purpose of polishing. Improved geometry and reduction in resistance to feed are the objectives. Think cylinder honing.

There are plenty of firearm examples of improvements that seem less than they are. Tennifer for example is more than a tacticool black color scheme; it increases hardness and lubricity while protecting the base metal from damage. Checkering is more than a nifty pattern, it increases grip and by extension control and retention.

Indeed the benefit of any given improvement may never go noticed by the owner unless or until marginal conditions exist, say night sights in low light or checkering in a downpour.

gpjoe
June 13, 2012, 08:46 AM
The only polishing that my pistols get is from the constant feeding of a variety of ammo sent down range. If I encounter a pistol that won't feed reliably (which I have not) it's going back to the manufacturer for remedy. No 'table-top gunsmithing' for me.

Skylerbone
June 13, 2012, 12:31 PM
If I encounter a pistol that won't feed reliably (which I have not) it's going back to the manufacturer for remedy.

Would you specify they not alter the feed ramp, even if it's the problematic area?

No 'table-top gunsmithing' for me.

I don't suggest everyone jump in and go for it, merely understand the argument. Far too many people believe rough, loose, rattling, dirty, dry or dripping in oil are things that make firearms run well. They don't.

DeadFlies
June 13, 2012, 02:02 PM
I polished the feed ramp on my Hi-Point C9. The overwhelming consensus on the HP forums is that polishing the feed ramp (along with adjusting the mag lips) can and will do wonders. So I took a dremel and some Mother's Mag Polish and made it real shiny and smooth; it feeds very reliably now. However I did tinker with a few other things so there are few other variables in play.

Guns are such fun and simple machines. Who can resist taking them apart and tinkering with them? Think I'll get a Mosin next. I love project guns.

gpjoe
June 13, 2012, 05:27 PM
Would you specify they not alter the feed ramp, even if it's the problematic area?

I would specify that the pistol does not feed properly. It is their responsibility at that point to identify and fix the "problematic" area.

Ben86
June 13, 2012, 08:36 PM
I polish my feed ramps by putting lots of rounds down range.

The only way I'd attack it with a dremel is if

A: I had a genuine problem with the feed ramp and

B: I new exactly what I was doing.

Neither one has happened yet.

1911Tuner
June 14, 2012, 05:01 AM
Dremel polishing the feed ramp on a 1911 pistol is risky. It's best to leave'em alone. The angle is pretty critical, and it takes very little change to turn a reliable feeder into a Jammin' Jenny" in quick-time with a Dremel and a buffing head.

If the top corner of the ramp gets "rolled" just a little, the bullet nose heads straight for the barrel ramp. That's the makings of a 3-Point Jam.

It doesn't take much. Not long ago, I had a Combat Commander on the bench that had been polished up...and it wouldn't get through a full magazine of hardball. The damage was so slight that I had to roll the frame back and forth under natural light to see it. Luckily, I was able to correct it and got the pistol running. If Danny had let that buffer linger for another 30 seconds, the ramp would have been ruined.

Way back around 1943, a small block of Ithaca pistols got past QC with the frames parkerized after the final cut on the feed ramps. The inspector was ready to reject the lot and send it back when somebody suggested test-firing a few randomly-picked pistols.

They selected 30...about 10% of the lot...and there were no problems. Another 30 tested produced the same results. The lot was entered into inventory and the matter was forgotten.

hentown
June 14, 2012, 09:05 AM
I understand your analogy, but change it to; your Lexus having a wash and wax, then expecting it to be more dependable or getting better milage. This is more how I see the benefit, or lack thereof), of feed ramp polishing.

AAMOF, a polished Lexus will get better gas mileage than an unpolished Lexus. Better get out some pretty accurate gages, in order to measure the difference, though! :evil:

1911Tuner
June 14, 2012, 09:38 AM
AAMOF, a polished Lexus will get better gas mileage than an unpolished Lexus.

Well...in theory...but with head and tail winds popping up at random times and places, the polished car could just as easily get worse gas mileage.

I kid. I kid.

Skylerbone
June 14, 2012, 11:05 AM
Again, not rallying behind the Dremel or So Easy a Caveman Can Do It, merely that when done correctly polishing the ramp optimizes feed. It will not correct errors of angle any more than doing nothing. Even in 1943 those inspectors knew enough to be concerned and they had but one round to be concerned with and just a handful of contract manufacturers.

1911Tuner
June 14, 2012, 11:17 AM
What the inspectors discovered with those Ithacas was the ramp geometry was more important than the finish. I've seen ramps with obvious tool marks in which the guns fed without a hitch...including several WW1 and WW2-era USGI pistols that can't tell the difference between hardball and hollowpoints and even cast SWC.

when done correctly polishing the ramp optimizes feed.

Statistically, you can't get better than 100%.

Skylerbone
June 14, 2012, 01:02 PM
Tuner, I respect what you're saying but I think I know what you're not saying (and why). Here's a summary of what I've said:

Polishing does not correct angles.
Measure what you have.
Polishing (all else being equal) improves feed.
Working is not the equivalent of optimized.

That some people have screwed it up does not negate the argument, it enforces the point that any work done must be preceded by understanding.

As for don't fix what ain't broken, my last new Colt included (shocking!) a loose plunger tube. It worked right out of the box. I had it replaced and properly staked anyway. I don't claim a polished feed ramp is the miracle cure for our time, only that if done correctly (as with ANYTHING else) can only improve function. I am not arguing that a rough feed ramp cannot function.

I also respect that Tuner's advice has probably saved more frames/barrels from an early grave than any other person I can name. It's high risk small reward especially for a table top guy, I get that.

gpjoe
June 15, 2012, 12:55 AM
Skylerbone,

The OP's question was very specific:

How many of you polish the feed ramp of your autoloader regardless of whether or not you're having feeding problems?

So while you make many valid points, I personally cannot recommend polishing the feed ramp of any pistol. My reasoning that if the pistol feeds properly, it doesn't NEED polishing. If it doesn't feed properly, it's a warranty issue (which is one reason I would never buy a used pistol from anyone other than a trusted source).

I have read entirely too many horror stories, we all have, about butchered guns and I believe it is irresponsible to advocate a practice that if employed without the proper knowledge and skills can turn a perfectly functional pistol into a paperweight. I want to stress that I believe you and I are on the same page in that regard.

We also know that there are a lot of folks that cannot even use a screw driver properly, and they need to be aware of the negative consequences of improperly altering the feed ramp on their pistol, especially when they are doing it to a functional pistol merely because a mirror-polished ramp on their 1911 looks cool. I believe you also agree with that statement.

Looking at the pictures you posted, you obviously possess the skills required and are not the person I am referring to in the previous paragraph. And even though I am very comfortable using a screwdriver, I'm not that good (or willing to risk ruining a gun), and I'm guessing a lot of other folks aren't either.

So my reply to the OP's question (as written) has to be "I won't do it ever, for any reason, under any circumstance".

hentown
June 15, 2012, 08:45 AM
I don't own a Lexus, but I do own a few 1911s and some Glocks. I've found it desirable to polish all the mating surfaces of the firing mechnisms of my Glocks. I also do polish the feed ramps, although I doubt that polishing the feed ramp on a Glock is necessary. I use a Dremel with the soft, white polishing wheel that's attached with a screw to a mandrel. I use Simichrome as a polishing agent. You'd have to have a lot of patience to change any angles with Simichrome. (Unless, of course, if you were polishing on a pot-metal firearm like Hi-Point, Lorcin, etc.);)

Ben86
June 15, 2012, 09:49 AM
I've found it desirable to polish all the mating surfaces of the firing mechnisms of my Glocks.

Did you polish the protective nickel and copper plating off?

1911Tuner
June 15, 2012, 09:57 AM
I use a Dremel with the soft, white polishing wheel that's attached with a screw to a mandrel.

That's the very attachment that often does the most damage, as in the one that I described earlier...the one that I could barely see. The polishing agent was Flitz...a very mild abrasive.

The thing about using a Dremel or similar high-speed device with a soft buffing attachment is that it's easy to roll a corner...and because it's spinning at some 30,000 rpms...it generates a lot of heat in a very short time. Heat anneals steel...softens it...and the "mild" abrasive becomes more aggressive, removing a thin layer of the steel.

The heat then softens the surface again...and the process repeats itself. A ramp angle can be altered in as little as 30 seconds, depending on how much force is applied to it.

You may not believe that you're removing material, but you are. Notice how quickly the mop turns black? Heeeeere's yer sign!

atomd
June 15, 2012, 10:20 AM
The ramp in one of my 1911s polished itself using 230RNL bullets. After thousands of those it's pretty darn shiny. Some flitz could turn it into a mirror but I don't see the need.

Skylerbone
June 15, 2012, 10:39 AM
gpjoe, my apologies if I pursued your answer beyond its intended meaning, I saw never and, like a bull seeing red, though without all that pent up anger. As to what we agree on I'd say you are spot-on and it's a relief to know somewhere amid my rants that someone understood the point, something I should have clarified in the beginning.

One bit you did get wrong- I've screwed up more than once "learning on the job" though never (yet) on a feed ramp (6 and counting). None of those mistakes was critical but one did ride the edge of safety and I ponied up for a professional pistolsmith to correct it. Again, I don't advocate people jumping in without understanding, I can verify things get expensive.

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